Well, now here he is -- his real name is Scott Thomas Beauchamp, he's a soldier, and as best I can tell nobody has yet brought forward any serious reason to doubt his story. Needless to say, rather than spend some time reflecting on the fact-free zone the conservative press is trying to create, Jonah Goldberg is attacking Beauchamp while Mark Steyn argues that Jonah isn't attacking him viciously enough.
That's just crazy. All these people need to stop. They need to take a deep breath. They need to apologize to the people at TNR who've wasted huge amounts of time dealing with their nonsense. And they need to think a bit about the epistemic situation they're creating where information about Iraq that they don't want to hear -- even when published in a pro-war publication -- can just be immediately dismissed as fraudulent even though the misconduct it described was far, far less severe than all sorts of other well-document misconduct in Iraq.
Nothing has been disproved so far as I can tell. And the incident that seems to have created the fooferaw has actually been confirmed. Hewitt is unable to find a single factual inaccuracy and seems dismayed that a soldier might want to write about his own experiences in wartime. But why the hell not? And what does it matter if he has an agenda and an ambition to become a Writer? I can't see the crime here - unless he fabricated something and we don't know that. So why the craziness?
Partly, I think, new media hatred of TNR. Partly that Thomas is obviously a liberal Democrat who's also a soldier. But mainly, it seems to me, the conservative blogosphere has taken such an almighty empirical beating this last year that they have an overwhelming psychic need to lash out at those still clinging to sanity on the war. This Scott Thomas story is a godsend for these people, a beautiful distraction from the reality they refuse to face.
It combines all the usual Weimar themes out there: treasonous MSM journalists, treasonous soldiers, stories of atrocities that undermine morale (regardless of whether they're true or not), and blanket ideological denial. We have to understand that some people still do not believe that the U.S. is torturing or has tortured detainees, still do not believe that torture or murder or rape occurred at Abu Ghraib, still believe that everyone at Gitmo is a dangerous terrorist captured by US forces, and still believe we're winning in Iraq. If you believe all this and face the mountains of evidence against you, you have to act ever more decisively and emphatically to refute any evidence that might undermine this worldview.
Look: I don't know the roots of everything Scott Thomas Beauchamp has written. If there are aspects to his first-person accounts that do not pan out, we need to know. But so far, there's no evidence of anything wrong. So far, the hysteria says far more about the hysterics than about TNR.